Dr. Cameron Webb, a University alumnus and director of Health Policy and Equity for the School of Medicine, won the Democratic nomination for the Commonwealth’s Fifth Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday. The Fifth District spans from Northern Virginia to the North Carolina border, and includes Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
Webb won 68 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election, followed by Claire Russo with 19 percent, Roger Dean “RD” Huffstetler with 8 percent and John Lesinski with 5 percent. All three of Webb’s opponents are Marine veterans. Russo served as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs fellow, Huffstetler founded a technology startup and Lesinski was a Rappahannock County supervisor.
“Tonight, the voters in the Democratic primary here in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District entrusted me with the responsibility of carrying the flag forward into November,” Webb said in a statement early Wednesday morning. “I am humbled, I am overjoyed, and I am supremely motivated.”
The main focus of Webb’s campaign is affordable healthcare, but his policy priorities also include COVID-19 crisis recovery, environmental protection, education reform, affordable housing, jobs, women’s equality, criminal justice reform and infrastructure.
Webb has prior experience working in Washington, D.C. as a White House Fellow. He worked on healthcare policy and also served on President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance to address opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color.
Webb graduated from the College in 2005 as an Echols Scholar with an interdisciplinary degree. He went on to earn both an M.D. and J.D. and currently works as both an internist and an assistant professor of Medicine and Public Health Science at the University.
Webb has also been coordinating COVID-19 testing in the local community through his role at the School of Medicine and gave the keynote address to graduates of the College during 2019’s Final Exercises.
Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, noted that Webb, who is Black, performed better in counties with higher Black populations — for example, he earned 88 percent of the vote in Danville where the population is 51 percent Black.
“Black candidates sometimes get a bonus with Black voters, and I think it showed on Tuesday night for Webb,” Kondik told The Cavalier Daily. “Webb won every county/independent city in the district, garnering about 65 percent of the overall vote, but he ran significantly ahead of that in parts of the district with higher Black populations … It will be interesting to see if Webb can translate this support into increased Black turnout in the fall.”
If elected, Webb would be the first Black doctor to ever serve in Congress.
The Democratic primary was conducted with additional precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A limited number of voters were allowed in polling places at a time, polling workers wore masks, and free hand sanitizer and wipes were provided for voters.
More than 13,800 voters chose to cast absentee ballots in the Virginia Democratic primary in the Fifth District, according to an analysis of data from the Virginia Public Access Project.
Webb will run against Republican nominee Bob Good, a self-proclaimed “biblical conservative,” in November’s general election. Good is a former fundraiser for Liberty University and a former supervisor of Campbell County. His platform is socially conservative, including pro-life, anti-immigration and anti-transgender stances.
Good also did not file the necessary candidate qualification form with the state on time, and it is unclear whether he will be able to continue to participate in the election. The Virginia Board of Elections will decide whether to accept his late paperwork by July 7.
The Fifth District, which is the largest in Virginia, is reliably conservative, having a Republican congressman since 2010 and choosing President Trump by double digits over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. According to Kondik, the Fifth District continues to lean Republican with Good standing as the current favorite in the general election.
“I certainly recognize that Democrats have lost the past five elections in this district, but I also realize that we are in a unique moment of transformation,” Webb said in his statement. “This election in November will be about responding to our crises — our global health pandemic and our national crisis of racial injustice. I intend to stand up as a voice for justice, a voice for fairness, and a voice for progress in the midst of those crises.”
This article has been updated.